Joachim Lemelsen

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Joachim Lemelsen
Joachim Lemelsen
Born (1888-09-28)28 September 1888
Berlin, German Empire
Died 30 March 1954(1954-03-30) (aged 65)
Göttingen, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Years of service 1907–45
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held XLVII Panzer Corps
1st Army
14th Army

World War I

World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Joachim Hermann August Lemelsen (28 September 1888 – 30 March 1954) was a German general during the World War II and a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. During Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, troops of the XLVII Motorized Corps under his command executed the criminal Commissar Order, prompting Lemelsen to complain: "Soon the Russians will get to hear about the countless corpses lying along the routes taken by our soldiers (...). The result will be that the enemy will hide in the woods and fields and continue to fight--and we shall lose countless comrades".

World War II[edit]

Born in 1888, Lemelsen joined the German army in 1907 and served during World War I. In the inter-war period, he served as commandant two military school. In March 1938, Lemelsen was given command of the 29th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht), later motorized, with which he participated in the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Lemelsen served in the Polish campaign; his division was involved in the Massacre in Ciepielów of 8 September 1939. On May 28, 1940 Lemelsen was given command of the 5th Panzer Division with which he participated in the Battle of Dunkirk.

On November 25, 1940, Lemelsen was given command of the new XLVII Motorized Corps, which he led in the Battle of Smolensk and the Battle of Kiev. Lemelsen reported to the Wehrmacht High Command about the executions of Soviet prisoners of war during the early phases of Operation Barbarossa:

I am repeatedly finding out about the shooting of prisoners, defectors or deserters, carried out in an irresponsible, senseless and criminal manner. This is murder. Soon the Russians will get to hear about the countless corpses lying along the routes taken by our soldiers, without weapons and with hands raised, dispatched at close range by shots to the head. The result will be that the enemy will hide in the woods and fields and continue to fight--and we shall lose countless comrades.[1]

The Corps was designated a Panzer Corps in June 1942 and participated as such in anti-partisan operations and in the Battle of Kursk. Later, he temporarily commanded the 10th Army in Italy for two months until the end of December 1943. Lemelsen was given command of the 1st Army, stationed near the Atlantic coast in France in May 1944. On 7 June, Lemelsen was transferred to Italy to take over command of the 14th Army to replace Eberhard von Mackensen who the theatre commander Albert Kesselring had dismissed. Lemelsen commanded the army in the Italian Campaign from June 1944 until mid October when he was given command of Germany's other major formation in Italy 10th Army. In February 1945 he returned to the leadership of 14th Army until the end of hostilities in Italy in early May.

Imprisoned by British forces after the war, Lemelsen in 1947 testified on behalf of his former commander,[2] Generalfeldmarschall Kesselring, during Kesselring’s war crimes trial before a British military court convened at Venice, Italy. Soon thereafter, Lemelsen was released. He died in 1954.




  1. ^ Hastings, Inferno, p. 146.
  2. ^ Profile, Joachim Lemelsen
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas 1998, p. 20.
  4. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 275.
  5. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 501.


  • Hastings, Max (2011). Inferno: the world at war, 1939-1945. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-307-27359-8.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Max von Hartlieb-Walsporn
Commander of 5. Panzer-Division
May 29, 1940 - November 25, 1940
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Gustav Fehn
Preceded by
General Johannes Blaskowitz
Commander of 1. Armee
3 May 1944 - 3 June 1944
Succeeded by
General Kurt von der Chevallerie
Preceded by
Generaloberst Eberhard von Mackensen
Commander of 14. Armee
5 June 1944 - 15 October 1944
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Kurt von Tippelskirch
Commander of 14. Armee
22 February 1945 - 2 May 1945
Succeeded by